By Jonty Banks

20th May, 2023 | 8:10pm

Cody Gakpo pocketed by Tyrone Mings in Aston Villa draw v Liverpool

In the pressure cauldron of Anfield and coming under severe pressure from a rampant Liverpool side, it would have been easy for Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings to fold like a pack of cards on Saturday (20 May)

Unai Emery’s Villa side boosted their European football with a thoroughly deserved 1-1 draw against Liverpool but will leave Merseyside disappointed after Roberto Firmino netted a late 90th-minute equaliser to break claret and blue hearts.

However, one man who can hold his head high was Mings, after a colossal showing in the heart of Villa’s defence.

Tasked with keeping Cody Gakpo quiet all afternoon, the England centre-back passed the challenge with flying colours, with the Reds attacker having just one shot on goal all afternoon (0.01xG) and accumulating an expected assists total of just 0.06. [SofaScore]

While Mings won 75% of his ground duels, Gakpo only managed a success rate of just over 50% (9/19) and also lost possession on 15 different occasions.

Meanwhile, Mings managed to rack up a quite ridiculous 10 clearances, as well as five interceptions and four recoveries during his 90-minute showing.

The centre-back also made five-headed clearances as Villa came under the pump in the closing stages of the enthralling encounter.

If the former Villa captain wanted a stage to show England manager Gareth Southgate of his credentials, this was it.

It is now surely only a matter of when, not if, Mings is brought back into the international fold for the upcoming international break in June.

There are few other English centre-backs possessing the form of the 30-year-old.

Yes, John Stones and Lewis Dunk are enjoying standout seasons at Manchester City and Brighton, respectively, but Mings must now have leapfrogged the likes of Harry Maguire, Eric Dier and Conor Coady in Southgate’s pecking order.

Hopefully, the defender can cap off possibly the best season of his career with a win against Brighton next weekend, which would, in turn, seal European football for the club next year.

It is no less than Mings deserves.

In other Aston Villa news, a big-name Ollie Watkins-style forward is also on the agenda in what promises to be a busy summer.